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Donald Trump asks US Supreme Court to put presidential immunity ruling on hold

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Donald Trump asks US Supreme Court to put presidential immunity ruling on hold

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Donald Trump has asked the US Supreme Court to put on a hold a ruling that barred him from using presidential immunity as a shield against criminal charges accusing him of meddling in the 2020 presidential elections.

The filing on Monday from Trump’s lawyers comes as he fights to convince US courts he is legally protected from a federal indictment filed by the Department of Justice accusing him of interfering with the 2020 election.

Trump’s “claim that Presidents have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex, and momentous question that warrants careful consideration on appeal,” his lawyers said in the brief.

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A trial in the federal election interference case, which was meant to begin on March 4, has been postponed to an undisclosed date. Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, proceedings in that case could resume within days, Trump’s lawyers warned.

Trump’s lawyers said they would ask the Supreme Court to hear the case, as well as seek further review from the full appeals court.

The DoJ declined to comment.

The application comes as the Supreme Court is considering a separate appeal involving Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 presidential elections. He is seeking to overturn a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that disqualified him from the state’s primary presidential ballot on the basis that he engaged in insurrection. The evidence in the case is linked to January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win. 

If the Supreme Court ultimately weighs in on Trump’s presidential immunity claim, it will dive into one of the most fraught legal debates in the US. While supported in various forms by many scholars, presidential immunity is a hazy stipulation that is not explicitly defined in the constitution nor in statute. A handful of DoJ memos and Supreme Court decisions keep the doctrine alive, but the high court has yet to rule on cases involving criminal charges against a president. 

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“If the prosecution of a president is upheld, such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination,” Trump’s lawyers said in Monday’s filing.

Immunity is a critical defence strategy for the ex-president, who is facing 91 criminal charges across four separate criminal cases. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing federal cases against Trump, last year sought to fast-track the review of the immunity claim, bypassing the court of appeals. The Supreme Court rejected his petition, letting the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have its say first.

Quoting Hall of Fame baseball catcher Yogi Berra, Trump’s lawyers said Monday’s application was “déjà vu all over again”.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel for the appeals court last week said Trump was not entitled to immunity because he was no longer president.

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“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defences of any other criminal defendant,” the judges wrote in their order. “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

Trump’s lawyers had asked the appellate court to consider a broad interpretation of immunity, arguing a former president may only be prosecuted if previously impeached and convicted by Congress for similar crimes — even in some of the most extreme circumstances.

The DoJ told the court that as an ex-president, Trump was not entitled to legal protection and that his case was “not a place to recognise some novel form of criminal immunity”.

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Donald Trump defeats Nikki Haley in South Carolina Republican primary

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Donald Trump defeats Nikki Haley in South Carolina Republican primary

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Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary, defeating Nikki Haley in her home state and moving another step closer to winning his party’s nomination for president.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump the same minute the polls closed in South Carolina on Saturday. At just after 8pm Eastern Standard Time, Trump held 58 per cent of the vote and Haley held 42 per cent, with more than 20 per cent of the votes counted.

“This is a fantastic evening, it’s an early evening,” Trump said during his victory speech in Columbia, South Carolina, shortly after the polls closed. “On November 5, we’re going to look at Joe Biden, we’re going to look him straight in the eye — he’s destroying our country — and we’re going to say ‘Joe you’re fired! Get out Joe!”

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Trump’s win in South Carolina comes after convincing victories in the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses last month — and raises fresh questions about how much longer Haley will stay in the race.

Trump insisted the Republican party was firmly behind him on Saturday night, telling supporters: “I have never seen the Republican party so unified as it is right now.”

But Haley has argued that a plurality of Republicans do not want the former president to be their nominee for the White House, and vowed ahead of Saturday’s vote that she would continue to fight on, whatever the outcome in South Carolina. 

“South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president,” Haley said in a speech this week at Clemson University, in Greenville, South Carolina. “We’re going to keep going all the way through Super Tuesday,” she said on Saturday morning, referring to March 5, when more than a dozen states will hold primaries.  

Haley has spent heavily on campaign advertising, tapping a war chest filled by millions of dollars in donations from Wall Street and other deep-pocketed donors who have warmed to her Reaganite conservatism, considering her a viable alternative to Trump who is more likely to defeat President Joe Biden in a head-to-head contest in November. 

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Betsy Ankney, Haley’s campaign manager, said on Friday that Haley’s campaign would make a “seven figure” ad buy with adverts to run across the Super Tuesday states in the coming days. Haley spent about $11.4mn on ads in her home state this month, according to AdImpact data — over $10mn more than Trump.

“The math is challenging” for Haley to win the nomination, Ankney conceded. “But this has never just been about who can win a Republican primary. This battle is about who can win in November.” 

A recent Marquette Law School poll found Trump and Biden virtually tied with voters nationwide, while Haley led Biden in a hypothetical general election match-up by 18 points.

To secure the Republican presidential nomination, a candidate must win an estimated 1,215 delegates from across the country before the official vote confirming the nomination at the party’s national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July.  

Trump already has 63 delegates thanks to his earlier victories in the primary race, and Haley has 17. Another 50 are up for grabs in South Carolina: 27 to the outright winner and the rest divided according to results in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. 

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Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, senior advisers to Trump’s 2024 campaign, issued a memo this week insisting “the end is near” for Haley. Citing public and private polling data, LaCivita and Wiles said Trump was on course to rack up enough delegates to win the Republican nomination by mid-March.

On Saturday, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said Haley was “no longer living in reality” and “continues to gaslight voters and the media into believing she has a chance to win her home state of South Carolina and other states when she hasn’t received any type of real support or shown even a shred of momentum.”

“The primary ends tonight and it is time to turn to the general election,” Cheung added.

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Haley calls Trump's 'disgusting' comments about Black people a 'huge warning sign'

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Haley calls Trump's 'disgusting' comments about Black people a 'huge warning sign'

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley talks to the media after voting Saturday in Kiawah Island, S.C. Haley called former President Donald Trump’s comments about Black voters “disgusting.”

Chris Carlson/AP


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Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley talks to the media after voting Saturday in Kiawah Island, S.C. Haley called former President Donald Trump’s comments about Black voters “disgusting.”

Chris Carlson/AP

Nikki Haley called comments Donald Trump made about Black people at an event Friday “disgusting” and proof Republicans would lose the presidential race if he’s the nominee.

Speaking at the Black Conservative Federation Gala in Columbia, S.C., Friday night, former President Donald Trump made a series of inflammatory comments about Black voters, including suggesting that Black voters support him because of his criminal indictments, that they have “embraced” his mug shot and that he could only see Black people in the audience because of how bright the stage lights were.

“Black people are so much on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them,” Trump said about his various indictments. “Does that make sense?”

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From left, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, right, appear on stage as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation’s Annual BCF Honors Gala in Columbia, S.C., Friday.

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From left, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, right, appear on stage as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation’s Annual BCF Honors Gala in Columbia, S.C., Friday.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Haley, speaking to reporters after casting her vote in the South Carolina primary Saturday near her home in Kiawah Island, S.C., said the comments are the latest example of a “huge warning sign” if he’s the GOP nominee.

“It’s disgusting, but that’s what happens when he goes off the teleprompter,” Haley said to reporters after voting on Kiawah Island. “That’s the chaos that comes with Donald Trump. That’s the offensiveness that’s going to happen every day between now and the general election, which is why I continue to say Donald Trump cannot win a general election. He won’t.”

Haley’s argument to voters is that Trump is a candidate of chaos that will only hurt the Republican Party come November.

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She is currently lagging in the polls behind Trump in South Carolina and nationwide as the primary contest continues next week in Michigan.

NPR’s Sarah McCammon contributed reporting to this article.

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Results: The Most Detailed Maps of the South Carolina Republican Primary

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Results: The Most Detailed Maps of the South Carolina Republican Primary

Map is colored by the candidate who leads in each precinct. Lightly shaded areas are more sparsely populated. Some precincts may only be reporting partial results.

See full results in the South Carolina Republican primary ›

The map above shows the leading candidate in each precinct. It is shaded according to the number of votes per square mile for that candidate, meaning sparsely populated areas where fewer primary voters live are lighter, and denser areas are darker.

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How Trump and Haley are faring in every precinct

Here’s another way to look at the results. In the maps below, precincts are shaded according to each candidate’s vote share for former President Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor.

In many counties, early and absentee votes are likely to be reported first. In precincts that have not yet reported all vote types (early, absentee and Election Day), the margin between Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley could shift significantly throughout the night as more votes are reported.

How Republicans voted in different kinds of areas

This table shows the leading candidate in precincts that have reported all vote types, based on the demographics of those areas.

Data will appear in the following charts when more precincts have reported their results.

Precincts in … Leader margin Trump percent Haley percent

Lower income areas

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Higher income areas

Areas with fewer college graduates

Areas with more college graduates

Rural areas

Suburban areas

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Urban areas

Strong Biden areas in 2020

Trump and Haley support

Each dot in the charts below represents one neighborhood’s precinct. Precincts are displayed only if they have reported early, absentee and Election Day ballots. The dots are positioned on the charts based on the percentage of the vote each candidate received in that precinct.

Precincts in …

Lower income areas

Trump

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Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

Higher income areas

Trump

Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

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Precincts in …

Areas with fewer college graduates

Trump

Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

Areas with more college graduates

Trump

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Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

Precincts in …

Rural areas

Trump

Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

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Empty chart, waiting for data

Suburban areas

Trump

Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

Urban areas

Trump

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Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

Empty chart, waiting for data

Strong Biden areas in 2020

Trump

Empty chart, waiting for data

Haley

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Empty chart, waiting for data

Methodology

Higher income areas are precincts where the median household income is $78,000 or more; lower income areas are where the median household income is $40,000 or less. Areas with more college graduates are precincts where more than 40 percent of the population has a college education; areas with fewer college graduates are precincts where less than 15 percent of the population graduated college. The classification of areas as urban, rural or suburban is derived from research by Jed Kolko. Strong Biden areas are precincts where President Biden received more than 50 percent of the two-party vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Election results are from The Associated Press. The Times publishes its own estimates for the number of remaining votes, based on historic turnout data and reporting from results providers. These are only estimates, and they may not be informed by reports from election officials.

See The Times’s South Carolina precinct result map of the 2020 Democratic primary.

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